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In Paris, evil has visited again, Chris Christie tells #SunshineSummit

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The Paris attacks had New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stress that the first responsibility of the presidency is “protecting the safety, security and freedom of the American people,” he said Saturday.

Christie, one of the Republican contenders for president, spoke at the Sunshine Summit in Orlando, burnishing his ‘law and order’ reputation as a federal prosecutor.

After leading in the polls through late 2013, he’s been struggling to gain traction in the race, averaging 2.3 percent. The audience obliged, rising in volume to his many applause lines.

The two-term governor recalled his experience on Sept. 11, 2001, telling the audience that after his wife had gone into Manhattan for work that day, he wondered whether he’d ever see her again. The day before, he had been appointed U.S. Attorney for New Jersey by then-President George W. Bush.

Wife Mary Pat was safe, but a friend of his “never came home,” he said.

After the latest terror attacks that claimed over 100 lives, America needs a president who won’t require “on-the-job training.”

” … We have seen evil visited once again … our outrage must turn into action and resolve,” he said. “We must never allow this type of evil to take hold.”

He mentioned that, for him, “being seven years as a U.S. Attorney immediately after Sept. 11, terrorism is not theoretical,” Christie said.

“It’s not something I discuss in a basement of the Capitol in a subcommittee meeting,” he added, a dig at some of his rivals. “I went to the funerals. I saw the carnage. It was my job … to make sure it never happened again.”

But, he added, “I fear as a nation we’ve begun to lose our focus on how we felt in the days after Sept. 11.”

Following the other candidates, Christie laid blame at the feet of President Barack Obama, saying he paid “lip service” to homeland security.

“He claimed that our borders were more secure than they’ve even been … He told us al-Qaida was on the run and called ISIS (the Islamic State terror group) the J.V.,” or junior varsity, he said. “And just hours before they struck in Paris, (he said) his strategy was ‘containing’ ISIS.

“All of these statements were a lie,” Christie said. Obama “sees the world as he likes to see it, as a fantasy; I see the world as it really is, not as he wishes it to be.”

He also followed the trend of presidential candidates slipping swear words into public remarks, saying he “sure as hell” wouldn’t be swayed by Washington elites.

Christie said some have criticized him as “too blunt,” but he said America “needs a blunt president who will lead the world again.”

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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